Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5
Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 creates a 16” platform that runs from a powerful mobile companion to a near mobile workstation. Unfortunately, its large power supply, heavy build, and steep price premium detract from an otherwise excellent business laptop that can be configured for most needs that don’t start with thin and light.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 Review
Like most ThinkPads, the X1 Extreme Gen 5 screams business. It screams business perhaps louder than most. The carbon fiber upper deck and aluminum base present a solid shell. Open the X1 Extreme Gen 5 to reveal an as-expected, top-shelf keyboard and a wonderfully expansive 16-inch display mid-tier IPS screen configuration that delivers outstanding color with its Dolby Vision™ and HDR credentials.
I always opt for thin laptops. No more than 14”, and I’m not unhappy with smaller displays. But there is something to be said for more display real estate. Of course, as much as I like a small screen on the road, I also like multiple screens. Apple’s Universal Control and Sidecar with an iPad Pro and 14-inch MacBook prove ideal. In the PC world, that kind of experience requires a second monitor or just a bigger one.
The X1 Extreme Gen 5’s 16.0″ WQUXGA, 3840 x 2400, offers plenty of real estate for most mobile work, though a second monitor with a similar resolution will be welcome when available.
Overall, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 not only screams business but delivers it with plenty of ports, high-end Wi-Fi, including a 5G option, and inside, an Intel 9i CPU, 64GB of DDR5 4800MHz Ram and an available 8TD PCIe Gen 4 SSD. Extreme is right.
What we like
There is absolutely nothing in the review configuration of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 that would deter a full recommendation as a business laptop.
As with many ThinkPads, especially on the high-end, the excellent keyboard feels great to type on, but the backlighting and spill resistance elevate it to the next level. The keyboard also offers airplane mode and call control keys.
The highest-level configuration includes a touchscreen and an optional pen. The 165Hz refresh rate makes for responsive business graphics, with adequate support for gaming through various NVIDIA® GeForce®, including a 16GB RTX™ 3080Ti GPU.
I have already mentioned the case, the keyboard and the display. The ports meet expectations, with 2 USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, 1 powered. In addition, 2 USB-C Thunderbolt™ 4 ports support a wide range of hubs and peripherals. An HDMI 2.1 port eliminates the need for the most common mobile dongle, the USB-C to HDMI connector. Port selection also includes an SD Express 7.0 4-in-1 card reader and a headphone/microphone combination jack. An optional SIM slot supports5G networking.
Audio quality was a big surprise from the ThinkPad Extreme X1 Gen 5. The Dolby speakers live up to their billing. It isn’t a burden to watch a theatrical film on the device; it’s a pleasure.
Standard wireless features offer the latest in Fi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth® 5.1.
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 supports login biometrics with Microsoft Hello on its 1080p camera and a fingerprint reader built into the power button.
Lenovo also integrated Tile® but only for those willing to buy into the Tile® tracking service.
To keep the system in top condition from a software standpoint, Lenovo pairs Microsoft Update with Lenovo Commercial Vantage for proprietary updates, bios updates, and as a way to communicate device-related information. Beyond this basic app, the X1 Extreme Gen 5 is otherwise free from bloatware.
And as with good keyboards, Lenovo also does an outstanding job on environmentally friendly packaging, with recycled post-consumer content (PCC), such as plastic and natural materials, including the speaker enclosure, the battery compartment, and the adapter. The computer ships in recycled and/or sustainably forested packaging and recycled PCC cardboard cushioning. The X1 Extreme Gen5 is also certified as EPEAT® Gold and ENERGY STAR®.
What could be improved
As with all ThinkPads, I’d like to see Lenovo finally ditch the TouchPoint to simplify the design, bring costs down, and reduce input complexity and confusion.
While the X1 Extreme Gen 5 includes a top-of-the-line mobile processor, its power-hungry profile does not necessitate a huge brick power supply. Or perhaps it does, but it should not be the only option. USB-C power supplies can now rate for higher charging profiles. And I know from using several smaller power supplies that the X1 Extreme will charge via 100W and 65W blocks, despite a BIOS warning at startup.
Slower charging, however, might not be considered Extreme. So, the already heavyish, 4.14 pounds, 16-inch laptop ships with a hefty 230W power block that makes it feel even less portable. Lenovo provides a smaller 170W AC adapter depending on the configuration.
Regarding the camera security shutter, I prefer a software solution using a video mute button rather than a physical switch, which feels cheap, given the price of this model and its other refined design elements.
Another reason this device screams business is its price, which starts at about $3,000 list, and runs almost $7,000, fully decked out with an Intel i9-12900H, 32 GV of DDR5-4800MHz RAM, NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX™ 3080 Ti Laptop GPU 16GB GDDR6, a 1 TB SSD, a 16” 3840 x 2400 display, and 5G. Usually discounted, sometimes by a significant amount, (at the time of this review, it was selling for 41% off at Lenovo), don’t expect to pay list.
I would like to see Lenovo go into more detail on the ruggedness tests. They openly share their US Department of Defense’s MIL-STD 810G* standards suite but not the results by device. The underlying assumption seems that all devices put through these tests meet the standards, but they don’t share if they exceed them or even try to.
And it appears that Lenovo turns to the MIL-STD as an analog for the slightly more accessible IP rating, for which Lenovo devices do not receive a score—making it hard to compare dust and water resistance to other devices that employ that standard. I don’t know, for instance, what the water resistance of the keyboard actually means, as none of the MIL-STD tests check for keyboard water resistance.
None of the negatives are showstoppers, but they are annoying in an otherwise well-appointed laptop with a premium build and price.
ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5: The Bottom Line
Lenovo knows how to make business laptops that meet or exceed expectations. The well-made chassis, beautiful display and excellent keyboard will not disappoint all but the most discerning laptop buyers.
Buyers need to know they aren’t going to receive an ultralight computer, and the power supply weighs down the overall joy of what it means to be mobile. However, those looking for computing power without the inelegance of a mobile workstation will appreciate the balance of features and power. The design team at Lenovo created a platform with enough thermal capabilities, airflow and internal space to accommodate extreme configurations.
Lenovo provided the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 for review. Images courtesy of Lenovo.
Serious Insights is an Amazon Affiliate. Clicking on an Amazon link may result in a payment to Serious Insights.
For more serious insights on hardware and accessories, click here.